Manatee Season Has Begun

Manatee Season Has Begun

Manatee season started November 15 and runs through to March 31. As air and water temperatures drop, manatees begin moving south for warmer water refuge, and slower seasonal speed limits go into effect. Boaters are cautioned to be on the lookout for greater numbers of manatees moving into the waterways. When the weather is cold, the majority of manatees can be found in the warm-water refuges. When temperatures are warm, manatees move into surrounding canals and the Intracoastal Waterway to forage, increasing the chance of manatee/boater interaction.

Boaters should be aware that many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect throughout the state on November 15 and run thru March 31. For information about manatee protection zones by county, including seasonal changes, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website and click on “Data and Maps.” At the bottom of the page there is information on FWC Manatee COLD-weather changes to speed zones.

Statewide, 86 manatees were killed by boats in 2015 with one of those deaths occurring in Broward County. From January through October 2016, 89 manatees were killed by boats in Florida.

Manatees can be difficult to see as they often swim and rest just below the water’s surface. To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should obey all posted speed limits, wear polarized sunglasses to help spot them in the water, and watch for the large, telltale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee “footprints”) that indicate the presence of manatees.

If you see a sick, injured, or deceased manatee, contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Number at (888) 404-FWCC (3922), *FWC or # FWC on a cell phone, or text tip@myfwc.com. It is very helpful to have the following information to help support manatee protection:

–  What is the exact location of the manatee?
–  Is the manatee alive?
–  How long have you been observing it?
–  What is the approximate size?
–  What is the location of the closest public boat ramp to the manatee?
–  Can you provide a contact number where you can be reached for further information?